Originally written on January 23, 2021.
Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett has written to President Joe Biden requesting the removal U.S. Attorney for the U.S. Virgin Islands, Gretchen Shappert from the position Ms. Shappert has held since 2018. Ms. Plaskett, who was recently named one of nine impeachment managers in the Trump trial by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, criticized Ms. Shappert and pointed to alleged vindictive actions the U.S. attorney has exacted.
Ms. Plaskett also called for the position to be filled by a local representative, deeming such an appointment as being "of critical importance to the Virgin Islands community."
"The circumstances surrounding the tenure of the current U.S. Attorney for the Virgin Islands, Gretchen Shappert, are untenable," said Ms. Plaskett. "She refuses to meet with my office even in a courtesy manner, obstructs other federal law enforcement agencies from engaging with local offices if she does not approve of the individuals running those offices – primarily Democrats. During her time as U.S. Attorney Ms. Shappert has exhibited blatantly discriminatory hiring practices, including firing local employees and hiring non-local, Republican leaning Assistant US Attorneys. She has bragged to those within the agency that given the Virgin Islands’ lack of Senate elected official, the territory’s distance and her court appointment – she will not be asked to resign by the new President. That blatant disregard of the President, our inclusion in justice and the democratic process can not be left unchecked."
The Consortium reached Ms. Plaskett's office Friday, but the delegate to Congress was in meetings throughout the day, dealing with both local and national matters.
Ms. Shappert received an interim appointment from Attorney General Jeff Session on January 4, 2018. On April 23rd, 2018, the Virgin Islands District Court appointed her as the U.S. Attorney for the Virgin Islands. Since then, she has overseen a flurry of cases in federal court: from drugs, to public corruption and gun violence.
“Gretchen Shappert has served this Department well for more than 25 years,” said Mr. Sessions at the time of the appointment. “For five of those years, she led federal prosecutions in Western North Carolina as United States Attorney. I am confident that, with this extensive experience, she will be an excellent leader as Interim U.S. Attorney for the Virgin Islands.”
According to a description on the U.S. Attorney's website, Ms. Shappert has served as the Assistant Director for the Indian, Violent and Cyber Crime Staff in the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA), since 2010. Prior to joining EOUSA, Ms. Shappert served as the United States Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina from 2004-2009 and as an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) from 1990-2004. As the United States Attorney and as an AUSA, Ms. Shappert prosecuted a wide range of criminal defendants including outlaw motorcycle gangs and violent drug organizations. Ms. Shappert also served as an Assistant District Attorney, an Assistant Public Defender, and in private practice prior to her federal service. She received her B.A. from Duke University in 1977 and her J.D. from Washington & Lee University School of Law in 1980.